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February 11, 2014

Taiwan, China Begin Landmark Talks in Mainland

Taiwan and China have held their first high-level political talks since their civil war ended 65 years ago.

The Tuesday meeting in the southern Chinese city of Nanjing comes amid warming relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi said he hopes his visit can serve as a catalyst for further improved ties.



"We are able to sit down today for a meeting to discuss issues concerning both sides and we should cherish this peaceful and stable momentum. I hope we can further promote the cross-strait relationship on the basis of the consensus reached previously."



Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun led the Beijing delegation. He said a "breakthrough" in Taiwan-China ties is possible, with hard work.



"We need to apply a bit of creativity if we really want to achieve a breakthrough in the relationship between the two sides. We need to make efforts to realize meetings like this, but we must also think more creatively for the future of ties. I am willing to visit Taiwan at a suitable time in the future."



Dozens of reporters were on hand to cover the start of Wang's historic, four-day visit, which will also include a trip to Shanghai with his 20-member delegation.

There is no official agenda for the visit, which many expect to be a largely symbolic and confidence building measure.



In announcing the trip last month, Wang said he would not be dealing with sensitive political issues, but will help establish a communication mechanism to avoid misunderstandings.

Taiwan split from China following a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still regards it as a breakaway province that will someday be reunified with the mainland.

Economic ties have improved in recent years, especially after the somewhat Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

Some opposition legislators in Taiwan have expressed concern over Wang's trip, saying he should convey the Taiwanese people are concerned about human rights in mainland China.